Religious Studies and Theology

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Religious Studies and Theology

The concept of an omnipresent God has been a point of contention among many theologians for many years. Therefore, open theism has developed as systematic way of understanding omnipresence as a nature of God, and whether God has ultimate control of the things that happen in the universe. According to the supporters of the open theism concept, God has no total control over the universe but rather provides opportunities for human beings to make free will choices concerning their spiritual life.

Further, open theism acknowledge the idea of omniscient God but refuses to accept that He knows everything that is going to happen. In general, open theism rejects the idea of divine timelessness as well as God’s foreknowledge and the response to humans’ deeds. The purpose of the current paper is to evaluate the extent to which Arminiastic views on God are expressed in the open theism espoused by McCormack in his article “The Actuality of God: Karl Barth in Conversation with Open Theism.” The main point of focus is my opinion as to whether I agree with McCormack’s assessment of actuality of God.

McCormack’s assessment of the actuality of God is much focused on the idea of a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In his article, he discusses openness and free will in the way the greatest mystery is understood in the Christian cycles. Moreover, he acknowledges the Arminianistic approach in the way he uses the Scriptures to establish the relational aspect of God. He notes, “Then though this passage doesn’t teach three distinct members of the Godhead, it can be made to cohere with such a doctrine.”[1] He begins with dissecting the concept of a triune God noting that the doctrine of Trinity has many safeguards against the possibilities of contradictions. McCormack’s analysis takes both views. In the Arminiastic view, the author states that the Holy Spirit is unaware of the thought of God unless the Holy Spirit and God, the Father, are both coequal.[2] I agree with the author’s claim that open theism is basically an orthodox expression of Arminianism but falls short of the divine foreknowledge of the Triune God and the way it is understood.

The first reason why I agree with McCormack’s assessment is that open theism reflects much the reciprocal nature of God. He exercises free will to the people through His triune nature. It influences His relationship with human beings. On the other hand, Arminianism focuses on the control of man’s freedom and response. The second reason is that Arminianism concerns the divine provision of God, which is specific and deterministic in nature. Thirdly, the divine providence of God is sovereign and surpasses the free will espoused in the open theism. Everything that human beings do is approved by the will of God. Subsequently, He can permit sin to occur. He is responsible for directing concurring with the effect that this has on His goodness and justice.[3]

Feinberg does not provide a certain dispute over McCormack’s assessment of the relationship between open theism and Arminianism. However, he notes that an enduring relationship between the two exists in a number of platforms in other area. To some extent, Feinberg agrees with McCormack’s conclusion that open theism has a level of Arminianism in the way the Holy Trinity is understood along with the aspect of elective foreknowledge of God.[4] On the contrary to the theological determinism that requires God to have control of everything in the life of human beings, as argued by McCormack, Arninianism posits that God is in agreement with every action and decisions undertaken by human beings. However, he does not have control over what is ultimately decided or undertaken by the human beings. This element establishes the background of one of the major differences between Arminianism and open theism, which McCormack tries to compare.

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